The top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar sat down for a rare meeting with a representative of the military government Friday, a day after the junta announced a conditional offer to meet with detained democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
Acting Ambassador Shari Villarosa met with Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint in the remote jungle capital of Naypitaw, according to a senior embassy official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
Food stocks for 200,000 people in an aid dependent region of western Myanmar are running out after deliveries were blocked, the UN food agency said Friday.
World Food Programme spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said truck deliveries of foreign food aid from the western port of Sittwe to a nearby region had been held up for 10 days by authorities there.
"The WFP is very concerned about the delays imposed on sending food from Sittwe to the state of north Rakhine (Arakan)," Berthiaume said, adding that no reason was given for the blockage.
Two hundred thousand people there receive food aid, she added.
"It's becoming worrying because our food stocks are running out," she added.
Myanmar suffers from severe levels of malnutrition. Berthiaume said about 32 percent of under five year-olds suffered from stunted growth according to the government's own figures.
DETAINED opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party has dismissed the Burmese junta's offer of talks as a surrender demand, and a UN envoy warned of international consequences from its brutal suppression of pro-democracy protesters.
Ibrahim Gambari, addressing the UN Security Council after a four-day visit to Burma, called for the release of all political prisoners there and voiced concern at reports of continuing government abuses after last week's protests.
"Of great concern to the United Nations and the international community are the continuing and disturbing reports of abuses being committed by security and non-uniformed elements, particularly at night during curfew, including raids on private homes, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and disappearances," Mr Gambari told the Council.
He said Burma's Government must recognise that what happened there "can have serious international repercussions".
The United States said it would propose sanctions at the 15-member Council if Burma did not "respond constructively" to international concerns, but success seemed unlikely with veto-wielding China firmly opposed to such action.
In a warning to the world body, Burma urged the United Nations to take no action that would harm its "good offices" role in defusing the crisis there.
YANGON, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar authorities have released 523 more protesters on Friday and Saturday, bringing the total freed so far to 1,215 out of 2,093 detained for being involved in recent protests in the biggest city of Yangon, according to an official press media Sunday.
Besides, the authorities also freed 398 monks out of 533 taken away by the government security forces for interrogation during recent raids on some monasteries in Yangon amid curfew order, the up-date official figures of the New Light of Myanmar show.
These freed monks were sent back to their respective monasteries, the report said.
Despite the Burmese junta's efforts to return the country to normal after its crackdown on anti-government protests last week, it has not relaxed its decision to close the country to the media. The government is denying entry visas to journalists and arresting or deporting those already inside Burma. I was deported Saturday, four days after entering the country and after filing my first report.
The security agent who informed me of my expulsion from the former Burma said the reason was contact with members of the NLD, the opposition party headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under arrest for much of the last 17 years. This statement, combined with his ease in locating me, indicates that the government had kept track of my movements.
The government's efforts to stop any information from leaving the country have frustrated even veteran reporters on the region. A Japanese photographer was killed by Burmese soldiers while covering a demonstration on September 27, and an unknown number of journalists were wounded during the crackdown.
YANGON, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has banned outbound package tour arranged by domestic travel and tour companies, the local Voice journal reported Monday.
Meeting with hoteliers and businessmen from travel agencies in Nay Pyi Taw recently, Director of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism U Hlaing Win said that domestic travel agencies are allowed only to arrange inbound package tour services within the country for domestic and foreign travelers but not for outbound package tour services for them.
The official warned of taking action against companies which break the tourism-related rules and regulations.
However, whether the package tours such as pilgrimage, Singapore and Bangkok ones being introduced by some companies are covered by the ban or not, remained unclear, the report said.
Two fellow members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have called on Burma to resolve its political crisis.
Malaysia has urged Burma's military Government to hold unconditional talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
ASEAN's current chair, Singapore, says it will support UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, but warns against pushing Burma into civil war.
The comments from Malaysia's Foreign Minister reflect concern among Burma's neighbours that the crisis there could get a lot worse unless a way can be found to bring the Government and the Opposition to the negotiating table.
Malaysia opposes economic sanctions or military action to try to force Burma's leaders to talk to Ms Suu Kyi.
It is worried that the calls from the United States and the EU for the international community to get tougher on the Burmese will continue.
Burma's leader, Than Shwe, says he will meet Ms Suu Kyi, but only after she drops calls for economic sanctions against the country.
And he says she should not call for the overthrow of his Government.
So now the uprising appears to be dead, just like previous failed efforts in 1988, when the military killed 3,000 protesters, and 1990. Burma seems to be one of those problems that the world is powerless to correct - like President Robert Mugabe's destruction of Zimbabwe, or the government-sanctioned cultivation of coca in Bolivia. I spoke to a few Burmese experts. There aren't many. As an area of study, the situation is so unsatisfying and unchanging that it doesn't attract legions of concerted activists. Maureen Aung-Thwin, a Burmese American, at first seemed resigned. "It may take another 10 years - but if it does, I might kill myself!" she said, half joking.
She is director of the Burma project at the Open Society, whose goal is to "help the country make the transition from a closed to an open society." But after a moment of reflection, she insisted, "I don't think it is finished. Burma is much more connected with the world now. The military relies on the same technology. They can't cut it off. I don't think this is over."
But then mid-week, the junta shut down the nation's two Internet service providers.
Jordt Applbaum, the former Burmese nun, insisted, "I think something has changed. This regime is playing its last, desperate card." Like the others, her assessment sounded more like an expression of hope than conviction.
VOA's Southeast Asia correspondent, Luis Ramirez, was able to enter the Burmese border down of Myawaddy Saturday with no trouble. He says all seems normal there, with Burmese traders crossing into Thailand and back as usual. But on the Thai side, he spoke to several Burmese Buddhist monks who had escaped the violence in Rangoon. They told him they are preparing to return to Burma, to keep up the fight against the military dictatorship. Ramirez later had this exchange with VOA's Barry Kalb in Hong Kong.
A relentless crackdown on Myanmar's pro-democracy activists showed no sign of easing with the junta announcing yesterday that 78 more people have been detained in spite of global outrage and new sanctions.
The latest arrests, reported by the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, brought to nearly 1,000 the number of people the military regime acknowledges holding in detention centers. In addition, it says 135 Buddhist monks remain in custody.
But dissident groups and foreign governments say more than 6,000 people have been locked up after last month's protests, the biggest in nearly two decades against 45 years of brutal military rule.
As it met this morning, the Security Council had before it a letter dated 4 October (document S/2007/590) from the Permanent Representative of the United States requesting it to consider the situation in Myanmar. The Council was expected to hear a statement by the Secretary-General and a briefing by Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari on his recent mission to that country.
LONDON (AP) — Burma and Somalia have been ranked as the most corrupt nations in Transparency International's 2007 index, released Wednesday — adding pressure to the Southeast Asian country's military regime as it faces the biggest anti-government protests in nearly two decades.
Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index scored 180 countries based on the degree to which corruption is perceived among public officials and politicians.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, and Somalia received the lowest score of 1.4 out of 10.
Western governments have accused Burma's junta — which seized power in 1988 — of turning what was once a jewel of Southeast Asia into one of its most miserable places through repression, mismanagement and corruption.
Burma's business elite thrive by serving the generals, while many in the country go without regular food and electricity, the top U.S. diplomat in Burma, Shari Villarosa, told reporters earlier this year.
WASHINGTON — First lady Laura Bush said Tuesday her husband's administration is prepared to slap additional sanctions on Burma's military government if it does not start taking more steps toward democracy.
Bush said she also conferred with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on the Burmese junta's plan to meet with imprisoned democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.